The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University is proud to offer five creative writing classes through the Piper Writers Studio. Classes are taught by acclaimed and award-winning writers from the community, and cover topics such as first-draft novel writing, novel revisions, persona poetry, and creative non-fiction.
The faculty and courses for the April 2017 sessions of the Piper Writers Studio are:
The Story Behind the Poem with Jim Sallis on Wednesdays April 5th – 26th, 2017 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Another Voice: Creating Memorable Poetic Personas with Lois Roma-Deeley on Saturday April 22nd, 2017 from 9 am to 1 pm.
The Facts of Life… and Death: Writing Crime Accurately with Deborah Ledford on Saturdays April 8th – 29th, 2017 from 12 pm to 2 pm.
Having a Blast: The Art of Comedy and Writing with Rebecca Byrkit on Wednesdays April 5th – 26th, 2017 from 6:30pm – 8:30 pm.
Your Podcast is a Story: Finding and Telling Strong Narratives with Tracey Wahl and Daniel Zwerdling on Saturday March 25th, 2017 from 9 am to 4 pm.
Classes are open to individuals of all backgrounds, skill levels, and experiences, and are designed to fit around the schedules of working adults (taking place weekday evenings or weekends). Most classes are held at the Piper Writers House, the historic President’s Cottage on the ASU Tempe Campus. Class sizes are small in order to ensure an intimate, individualized educational experience, so be sure to register early to secure your seat. Students can register on the Piper Center’s website.
Classes start at $75 (with discounts for individuals who are members of the Piper Circle of Friends). Classes can also qualify for professional development credit with the Arizona Department of Education.
Sessions are held every October, January, and April. Topics and instructors vary from semester to semester, so check out The Piper Center’s website for news about the courses and for FAQ’s.
Who doesn’t want to feel exhilaration, even transformation, during their creative writing process? Often when we are writing alone we get trapped in our own obsessions, verbal tics, repetitive images, “go-to” metaphors; and sometimes we just come up empty. Perhaps we can enhance our creative process by allowing another artist to speak into our imaginative space. Yes, it often feels risky but the rewards can be great.
I am speaking of the practice of ekphrasis, a conversation between and among two or more art forms. Working within an ekphrasis framework, some poets are using visual art, music, photography as well as mathematics, philosophy and physics to enhance their creative process and transform their finished work.
Ekphrasis can be viewed as an active, rapid interchange of the unexpected. It requires an attitude of openness and vulnerability. Ekphrasis courts the unanticipated.
My own experience with ekphrasis involves working with visual artists and musicians, some of whom I collaborated with for more than 10 years. When I first began working this way, my initial responses were nervousness and fear. I didn’t know how my collaborators would receive my work—or if they would understand my vision—or if they would try to impose something on my imaginative space that would feel false and intrusive. And I was also afraid that I would do the same thing to them! However, mid-way through my first collaborative project, what I discovered was that my fears were unfounded. In fact, my collaborators affirmed my poetic vision and enhanced my process by offering unexpected but thoughtful and useful suggestions about my work. Their reactions to my process and to poems allowed me to “think bigger” about my whole body of work. They saw things in me and my work that I could not otherwise see.
Significantly, I learned the approach to ekphrasis projects often centered upon these two dynamics:
Focus on structure or form
Focus on theme or content (essence)
I have worked with artists on numerous ekphrasis projects. However, I collaborated with two artists far more than any others.
With visual artist Beth Shadur, I have worked for more than 10 years on a multitude of artistic adventures. Beth founded and curates the Poetic Dialogue Project (for which I am the poetry curator), an ongoing project pairing visual artists with poets to make collaborative work. Its exhibitions have traveled nationally and internationally.
During our collaborations, Beth and I would often talk about how the “rhythms” and “structures” in a particular visual art piece matched the rhythms and structures of a particular poem. For example, here is Beth’s work “Witness,” which she created in response to my anti-war poem “Bougainvillea and TV.” If you look closely at this painting, you can see part of my poem and my name embedded on the palms, in the upper left hand corner of the picture. My poem is written in free verse with short lines followed by longer stanzas. Beth’s work has similar rhythms of color. My poem ends with the lines: “Now I know I will never understand a thing./The world talks only to itself./Rain to War. Child to dirt/Bougainvillea and TV.” Notice all Beth’s multi-cultural symbols of peace alongside the embedded image of the child lying in the dirt, which is a response to those lines. Both the poem and the visual art retain their own integrity but each is clearly “in conversation” with the other.
Beth explains the transformative power embedded in the ekphrasis framework that she heard from her many Poetic Dialogue Project collaborators:
“Poets mentioned experimenting and working outside their own comfort zone to create new ideas and forms for their work, while artists who had never considered text as part of their work found ways to integrate the poet’s voice. The ongoing dialogue offered each creator the opportunity to witness and effect the creation of ‘the other’, respond, communicate, argue, compromise, and sometimes, to change or overcome difficulties. In making collaborative work, each individual brought his or her strength to the paired collaboration, allowing each contribution to be weighed and valued, given critical consideration, as the pair moved to develop solutions to the creative process as a team. In some cases, the collaborative effort was exciting and inspirational, in others problematic. Some pairs mentioned difficult struggles in working with a person who was a stranger; and yet struggle, too, is part of the creative process. All pairs found that the collaborative process in creativity became a catalyst for new directions, new forms and new paradigms in their process and practice.” http://bethshadur.com/the-poetic-dialogue-project
The other artist I worked with was composer Christopher Scinto. He and I collaborated on the creation of a music drama, The Ballad of Downtown Jake. Christopher wrote the music and I wrote the book and lyrics. “Jake” is based on my collection of poems High Notes, the writing of which was a direct result of our collaboration.
When we first began working on our project, Christopher and I would talk about the way the structures of jazz pieces—“riffs”—can be mirrored in the structure of poems and a poetry collection. Christopher suggested we create five characters based on his anticipated musical considerations, which he would refer back to when writing his musical score. We decided the core conflict of our characters would be a differentiated struggle with addiction. A short while later, I named the characters and wrote a five-part poem titled “After the Jam Session.” The refrain in the sequence was a riff on the line “Give it to me,” which later became a kind of guiding principle for us. We decided each of our characters was addicted to something— whether it was fame, love, justice, power or hope. Ultimately, we realized we wanted to address the essence of those addictions in terms of the sacred and the profane and the role it plays in the creation of art.
Working with these artists transformed my poetic process and my poetry significantly. However, the most important gift I received from working with artists on these projects was joy: The pure delight of creating. The simple delight in discovery. The excitement of invention. The elation along the journey. The transport of another’s imagination. The experience of living art.
The Phoenix Poetry Series showcases some of the best poets in our community. This month, Jia Oak Baker and Lois Roma-Deeley will be reading their work at The Coronado. The event takes place on Friday, October 28 at 7 p.m. 2201 N 7th St, Phoenix, Arizona 85006. For more information, please visit the Facebook event.
Jia Oak Baker is the author of two chapbooks, Well Enough to Travel (Five Oaks Press) and Crash Landing in the Plaza of an Unknown City (Dancing Girl Press). She is the recipient of a 2015 grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and is a literary teaching artist for the City of Phoenix. She has been awarded residencies from the Wurlitzer Foundation and from Hedgebrook. Jia earned a MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and teaches at Paradise Valley Community College.
Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of four collections of poetry, the latest being The Short List of Certainties (Franciscan University Press, 2017), which won the Jacopone da Todi Poetry Book Series Award. High Notes, her third collection was a Paterson Poetry Prize finalist forms the basis of a music drama for which she wrote the book and lyrics. Her first and second collections are Rules of Hunger and North Sight. She was named 2012-2013 U.S Professor of the Year-Community College by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and CASE. She’s published in twelve national anthologies including Villanelles (Everyman’s Library, Pocket Poets Series). Roma-Deeley has won numerous awards and honors for her poetry, and her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the U.S. and Canada. She’s taught creative writing at the graduate and undergraduate levels and served as poetry co-editor for PKP Forum for ten years.
The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU is proud to offer four creative writing classes through the Piper Writers Studio. Classes are taught by acclaimed and award-winning writers from the community, and cover topics such as first-draft novel writing, novel revisions, persona poetry, and creative non-fiction.
The faculty for the Fall 2016 session of the Piper Writers Studio are:
Michael A Stackpole, a New York Times best-selling author known for his extensive fantasy and science fiction work in the Stars Wars, Conan, and World of Warcraft universes. Stackpole will be teaching Winning NaNoWriMo Tuesdays, October 4 – 25, 2016 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Carol Test, an award-winning short-story writer and former editor in chief of the Sonora Review who has taught workshops for the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Phoenix College, and Mesa Community College. Test will be teaching Remodel Your Novel: Five Key Scenes for Fiction Writers Wednesdays, October 5 – 26, 2016 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Marshall Terrill, veteran film, sports, music, history and popular culture writer with over 20 books to his credit, including bestselling biographies of Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley, and Pete Maravich. Terrill will be teaching Beyond the Facts: Writing Compelling Non-fiction Wednesdays, October 5 – 26, 2016 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Lois Roma-Deeley, an author with three collections of poetry and numerous publications in anthologies in journals who founded the creative writing program at Paradise Valley Community College and received an Artist Research and Development Grant from the Arizona State Commission on the Arts in 2016. Roma-Deeley will be teaching Another Voice: Creating Memorable Poetic Personas Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Classes are open to individuals of all backgrounds, skill levels, and experiences, and are designed to fit around the schedules of working adults (taking place weekday evenings or weekend afternoons). Most classes are held at the Piper Writers House, the historic President’s Cottage on the ASU Tempe Campus. Class sizes range between 8 and 12 students in order to ensure an intimate, individualized educational experience, and start at $75 (with discounts for individuals who are members of the Piper Circle of Friends). Classes can also qualify for professional development credit with the Arizona Department of Education. Individuals can register for classes through the Piper Center’s website until Monday, October 3rd, 2016.
Thank you all for attending the second reading in SR‘s reading series this Monday. We had some excellent writers in attendance, and in addition the audience turn out was also quite good. This included Lois Roma-Deeley (Paradise Valley CC, poetry), Patrick Michael Finn (Chandler-Gilbert CC, fiction) , Josh Rathkamp (Mesa CC, poetry), and Hershman John (Phoenix College, poetry). Our next reading will involve writers who are currently attending Arizona State University. Please note our final reading in the series is November 17th.
Please keep reading to see more photos of our participants. Read more →